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1 Writing the MBA Dissertation 1. General Comments This should be divided into chapters as detailed in the following section: Note: The dissertation may not divide up easily into the 6 main headings, but nevertheless these areas still need to be covered. Within the main body, from the introduction and background to the results and conclusions, the arguments should be presented clearly and flow logically. The overall structure must be coherent. Large amounts of data should go in an appendix (and should also be referred to in the text). Small summary tables, charts and diagrams should be included in the body of the study only where they support and clarify a point a being made; and these must appear in the text as well. Chapter 1 Introduction to the study Justify why your topic area is worth investigating in the first place; outline the main issues and summaries the contents of the chapters which are to follow, explaining the rationale of their content. By the time the reader gets to the end of the introduction, they should have a clear idea of what the study is all about, why it is relevant, and what to expect in the ensuing chapters. Chapter 2 Literature survey: historical and theoretical background The chapter requires you to have done some library and company research to: (a) find out, summarise and assess what has already been written (academic journal, books, newspapers, government reports, etc) in the specific study area; and (b) analyze the situation using appropriate models & analytical tools. It should be properly referenced. Ensure that you show the relevance of the theory for your study at strategic points. Note: a theoretical/literature component is a significant criteria in marking the submission. 1

2 Chapter 3 Research Methodology This should EXPLAIN, and JUSTIFY, the approach taken in getting your data. EXPLAIN: Describe HOW you went about getting your information, your sources, and any difficulties with access to information, etc. JUSTIFY: for example, you must make clear WHY you chose that particular sample of interviewees, and/or questionnaires, and/or secondary information. You must address such questions as: why is that sample appropriate to what it is you are investigating? Why did you ask these questions, and not those? How do you know people answered your questions in the way you intended? How did you compensate for your own bias? In other words, think how you would explain to someone that your data is both valid (i.e.: reliable enough to make valid connections between cause & effect), and replicable (i.e.: if someone else asked the same question to the same sample, would they get the same results?). Chapter 4 [ Note it is possible to combine chapters 4 and 5. In this case the title will read: Findings, Analysis and Discussion] Statement of Findings This should, as far as is possible, be a straight-forward reporting of what was found out. With questionnaires this is easy you just present the numbers in table format with the explanations and interpretation below each figure or table. In the case of interviews you may need to combine the factual reporting with the interpretation, analysis & discussion of the results. Chapter 5 [Note this chapter maybe combined with chapter 4]. Analysis & discussion of results In this chapter you need to interpret the results, and discuss their implications. You need to draw out the key points which will point towards the next chapter. This often is the hardest part to write up well, requiring you to think hard and carefully, and argue persuasively, your interpretation of the results and evaluate their implications for your 2

3 organization. This chapter provides a vital link between the bare data, and the conclusions and recommendations. Note: any weaknesses in the methodology will come to light here. Analysis and Interpretation are used interchangeably. Chapter 6 Conclusions and recommendations Present the finding. The conclusions must proceed logically from the findings and must demonstrate that you have answered fully your research questions. There should be clear, feasible recommendations. It should be recognized that recommendations are no use without a plan for their implementation, or at least a consideration of the main problems that will be encountered in their implementation. Very often students overlook this part. You must demonstrate that you have bridged the theory-practice gap. Referencing Poor referencing will be marked down; hence you should give full details of all books, articles, reports, etc., cited as references in your study. Use the full Harvard format as indicated in the Mancosa referencing guidelines. Appendices These should only include material that has been referred to in the study, but which for reasons of style you do not wish to include in the main body of your work. Raw data, reference tables, regulations, copy questionnaires, list of interviewees etc. should all be in an appendix. This material should support the main findings. If it is not referenced in the body then it should not be treated as merely an opportunity to add an impressive thickness to your study in an attempt to compensate for lack of authentic depth in the text!! All submissions must include an authentic letter from the organization granting permission to conduct the study. Assessment of MBA Study 3

4 The assessment of the MBA thesis will be based on how well the aims are fulfilled. An assessment sheet will be filled in under a number of specific categories. All theses are double-marked internally and externally. Theses will be categories into one of six bands: 1) EXCELLENT A (75% +0 The work: demonstrates comprehensive understanding of the requirements for MBA thesis; applies relevant theoretical knowledge properly referenced from the literature; collects adequate primary secondary data and information to support the investigation; shows the ability to exercise judgement ; clearly meets the terms of reference and achieves the objectives set; has excellent presentation OVERALL, the thesis is very comprehensive piece of work which achieves a very high standard. (If not confidential, the will be placed in the library.) VERY GOOD: B [70% -74%] Demonstrates a broad understanding of requirements for the MBA dissertation. Applies selective relevant knowledge from the literature. Collects more than adequate data to support the investigation. Shows ability to evaluate the problem, but lacks the originality and depth of judgment of the excellent category. Achieves well the research aims and objectives set. Has full referencing. Overall: The dissertation is a very comprehensive piece of work which achieves a very high standard. GOOD: C [60% - 69%] 4

5 Demonstrates acceptable understanding of the requirements for an MBA dissertation. Applies some relevance knowledge from the literature. Collects adequate data to support investigation. Expresses ideas and concepts sufficiently well to answer the research aims and objectives. Demonstrates a coherent grasp of the whole project process. Is adequately presented and organized. Overall: Of an adequate standard with coherent response to the task set. ACCEPTABLE: D [50%-59%] Demonstrates some limited understanding of the requirements. Is rather simplistic in the application of knowledge. Collects some relevant data, but is imprecise in arguing the case. Lacks any in-depth evaluation of the issues. Achieves only just an adequate coverage of the research aims and objectives. May be poorly presented. Overall: The project should achieve at least some of its objectives and what it lacks in some areas should be compensated for in others. UNACCEPTABLE/MARGINAL FAIL: E [40%- 49%] Shows some basic understanding, but tends to have errors or go off at a tangent. Is descriptive rather than evaluative. Collects inadequate data to investigate problem(s). Does not really argue the research questions. Achieves an inadequate coverage of the research aims and objectives. May be poorly presented. 5

6 Overall: The work just fails to achieve an adequate standard. UNACCEPTABLE/TOTAL FAIL: F [0% -39%] Shows wholly inadequate understanding of what is required. Is too descriptive. Little evidence of systematic collecting of any relevant data. Fails to achieve the research aims and objectives. Little evidence of theory and coherence. May be poorly presented. Overall: This is a clear fail. 6

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